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Of America in general. A M ERICA, llae fourth grand division of the earth, received its name from Americus Vefpufus, a Florentine ; who was far from deserving that honour, to which he had no other claim than a few inconsiderable dil coveries after Columbus had led the way, and his drawing a map of the country : if therefore it was proper for it to receive the name of any Eur topean, it might with more justice have been called Columbia, from the great man who made it known to the Europeaps ; and is frequently so callcd by the British race of inhabitants there.

This New World, as it is emphatically called, extends from the frozça regions of the north, where its limits are impervious to buman observation, on account of the impassable barriers of ice, which never yield to the influe cnce of the summer sun, through an extent of country, in which successively pass all the climates to be found in the other regions of the earth, and at length terminates on the south, in the snow-capped rocks of Terra del Fuego. Thus the continent of America extends from about the eightieth degree, N. to the fifty-six degree S. latitude ; and where its breadth is known from the 40th E. to the goch W. longitude from Philadelphia, without including the illands, fretching between eight and nine thousand miles in length: but in its greatest breadth, were certainly known, three thoutand fix hundred and ninety ; though in the middle it is not above fixty or seventy ruiles over.

It is bounded on the gorth by the feas about the north pole ; and on the E. by Davis's Straits, which separate it froin Greenland, and by the great Adan:ic Ocean, which divides it from Europe and Africa ; on the S. by the vast Southern or Pacific Ocean ; and on the W. by the north Pacific Ocean, which separates it from the eastern part of the continent of Aga, the desolate but temperate and excenlive rigions of New Holland; also from New Guinea, and an immense number of fruitful and populous islands. Abour the fixty-cighth degree of north latitude, it very nearly joins the most callern point of Ala, a fact which the indefatigablé labours of Captain

VOL. IV.

Cook ascertained, the low countries being there only 16 or 18 leagues apart.

It is very remarkable, that the climates of North America, are many degrees colder than any of the countries, under the same latitude in Europe ; thus New Britain, which is nearly in the fame latitude with Great Britain, is insupportably cold to an European : the greatest part of the frozen country of Newfoundland, the-bay of St. Laurence, and Cape Breton, liem parallel wish the coast of France ; Nova Scotia and New England are in the same latitude as the Bay of Biscays; New-York and Pennsylvania lic opposite to Spain and Portugal. Hence the coldelt winds of North America blow from the N. and ine W. as they do here from the N, and the E. Many causes have been assigned for this remarkable increase of cold in America, to that felt under the same parallel of latitude in Europe : one is the wind travelling over a valt extent of land from the north and welt, before it reaches those pacis of America above mentioned ; and some philosophers have maintained, that America was entirely overspread with an immense ocean, long since the records of history speak of Asia, Africa, and Europe.

This vall continent is divided almost in two by an ifhmus about fifteen hundred miles in length, and in one place so narrow as to be only about fixty miles over ; but being mountaneous, it would be impossible, perhaps, to open a communication there between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. All the continent to the north of this is bmus, together, with the isthmus itself, is ftyled North America : 'and all to the south' of it, including that even on this hide the equator, is styled South America. This narrow neck is called the ishinus of Darien.' ** North America is far from being mountaneous, and chiefly confills of gentle afcenis and level plains ; the principal hills in this extensive tract are talled the Apallachian, or Alleghany mountains, which extend on the back of the United States.". Bit in South America is the immense long and lofty chain called the Cordillera of the Andes, which in height and length exceed any chain of mountains in the other three parts of the carth; for beginning near the ishmus of Darien, they extend to the straits of Magellans, cutting the whole fouthern part of America in two, and running a length of four thousand three hundred miles. s America is also well watered by rivers, not only for the support of animal life, and at the advantages of fertility, but for the convenience of trade, and the intercourse of the dillant inhabitants by water. In North America the great river Minilippi, rising about the falls of St. Anthony, in laricude 47° N. runs above two thousand miles, chiefly from N. to S. receiving in iis course the Ohio, che Mifforie," the Illinois, the Ouisconfin, the Si. Croix, the St. Pierre, and other large rivers, navigable almost to their very Yources, and laying open the inmon recettes of this continent. Near the heads of these are extensive lakes of fresh water, which have a communication with each other, and with the great river Si. Laurence, which is navigable for ships above four hundred miles from iis mouth, where it is said to binety miles broad. On the eastern side of North America are the fine rivers Hudson, Deleware,. James, Pouwmak, Susquehanna, Conne Eticut, and several others of great length and depth, which willı many others of the molt remarkable, shall be described in the proper places. • In South'Aincrica are the two largest rivers in the known world, he river of Ainazors, and the Rio de la Plata : the Girl 'riles in Peru, and, after a course of above three thousand &x ‘hundred miles, in which it receives a

prodigious number of navigable rivers, falls into the ocean between Brazil and Guinea. The Rio de la Plata, or Plate river, rises in the heart of the country, and becomes lo large by the accellion of other confiderable rivers, pouring such an iminenfe flood into the sea, that it makes it taste freth-for.. feveral leagues from the shore.v a

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.. A country of loch valt extent on cach fide the equator, mus pecessarily have a variety of ioils as well as climates ; but if we except the mot northern and southern paris, which here, as everywhere elie, are naturally barren, the reft is an immense treasury of nature, producing moit of the metals, nunc rals, plants, fruits,' trees, and woods, to be met with in the other parts of the world, and any of them in greater quantities and higher perfection. The gold and silver of South America have supplied Europe with such im. tnenfe quantities of those precioris merals, that the value of specie, in .consequence, is greatly decreased; according to Montesquieu, the quantity theri in circolarion when he wrote, was, to that before the discovery of the Indies o thirty-two is to one. And in the revolution of about thiruv years, which time has elapred Gnce he made the calculation, the difference has become confiderably greater ; notwithstanding the immenfe quantities of filver annually carried to China, which never returns. "*. ...

i The southern division of this country also produces an immense quantity of diamonds, pearls, emeralds, amethysts, and other valuable stones, which are brought into Europe, in such quantities, as have also greatly lowered their value. To these may be added a great number of other commodities, whic, though of less price, are of much greater use. Of this sort are the constant and plentiful supplies of cochincal, indigo, anatto, logwood, brasil folic, pimento, lignum-vile, rice, ginger, cacao, or the chocolate nut, Sugar, tobacco, banilas, corton, red-wood, the balsams of Tolu, Perù, and Chili, Jesuit's bark, mechoacan, fallafras, farsaparilla, caflia, tamarinds, hides, furs, ambergris, and a great váriety of woods, roots, and plants, to which, before the discovery of America, we were either entire ftrangers, of forced to procure them at an esorbitant price from Aga, and Africa."

America has also a variety of moft excellent fruits, which although they grow wild, come so great perfection ; as pine-aaples, pomegranates, citrons, lemons, oranges, mancarons, cherries, pears, apples, figs, grapes ; valt Dombers of culinary, medicinal, and other herbs, roots and plants,

Add to this, the surprising fertility with which the soil is blefled, by which mans exotic productions are nourished in as'great perfection as in cheir native ground.

With all this plenty and variety, the vast continent of America formerly laboured under the want of many necessary and useful commodities for upon the first landing of the Europeans, they found neliher corn, wine, nor oil, and the inhabitants in many places knew nor the use of cora, bu made their bread of pulse or roots. Our kind of sheep, goats, cows, afles, and horses, were not to be found there, bough the land abounded with pallures ; and at first the night of a man on horseback would throw a whole troop of the innocent and simple inhabitants into a dreadful panic. . But all these animals have been transported thither in such plenty, and have inercaf ed to fast in those fertile pariures, that the country has no want of them, as appears from the innumerable hide, particularly of oxen, continually ex. ported. However, in the room of these domestic animals, they had othess Do less valuable, and to which the Europeans, upon the firk discovery, wers

utter ftrangers ; these we shall describe in the coumries where they are bred.

The same may be faid of the valt variety of birds to be seen here, some of which gréatly-furpass all that are to be found in any other parts of the world, for their surprising beauty, fine shape, bright and glowing colours. The feas, fakes, and rivers, also abound with the greatest variety of fifh.

el Before the arrival of the Europeans, they had arts of their own; having fome nokon of painting, they also formed pictures by the beautiful arrangement of feathers of all colours, and in some parts built palaces and temples. Though the use of iron was unknowo, chey polished precious stones, cut dowry trees, and made not only small canoes, but boats of considerable bulk. Their hatchets were headed with a sharp flint, and of flints they made knives. Thus, at the arrival of the Europeans, they afforded a lively picture of the primitive fare of mankind in the infancy of the world. For, at that pe. riod ihe arts, the sciences, and all the learning that had long flourished in these môre enligh'ened parts of the earth, were eatirely unknown.

Having chus given a short account of America in general, we shall acxt lay before our readers those circumstances, which led to its discovery.

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Of the Discovery of the Well-Indics, and of South America.

V ANKIND owe the discovery of the western world to the gold : the filver, the precious llones, che spices, alks, and costly manufatures, of the Eaft ; and even these incentives were for a considerable cime, insufficient to prompt to the undertaking, although the mof skilful navigator of the age proffered to risk bis life in the aliempi.

That wonderful property communicated to the needle by the loadstone, which conftituies its polarity, had been discovered about an hundred and seventy years before any navigator was found hardy enough to cross the equinoctial line, and the Portuguese were the firft to achieve it. The pro- . perty of the loadítanc, or magnet, to attraât iron, was well known to ihe · ancienis, and appears to have excited their astonishment. Cicero (peaks of it as fuch an incredible faci, as could not be believed, if it was not demoni ftrably proved Lascretius likewise speaks of this wonderful magnetic quality, and Pliny, the naturalist, employs a whole chapter on this lone, called by the ancients magner, which chapter he introduces by saying, “ what can be more wonderful! or in what part of Nature is there any thing more improbabte!". Bir to what ad height would the wonder of the ancients have 1 been raised, could they have had the foreknowledge, that, in future times, another property fhould be found in this operative {ubliance, by which an joftrument would be obtained capable of directing daring merals, through oceans of an incondcivrable extent, and of giving them access to every part of the globe! - The compass," to adopt the words of an able writer, may be faid to have opened to man the dominion of the sea, and to have put him in full: poliellion of the earth, by enabling him to vilt every pari of it."

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